Control Engineering hot topics, April 2017

Control Engineering's most clicked articles in April 2017 included stories about the programmable controller's origins, automation methods used at a brewery, PID learning, artificial intelligence and machine vision, and the emergence of the IIoT. Miss something? You can catch up here.
By Chris Vavra May 2, 2017

Programmable logic controllers (PLCs) have only been around for 50 years, but they have gone through a number of changes and evolutions that are paralleled with computers. Courtesy: Frank Lamb, Automation PrimerHot topics in Control Engineering, for April 2017, included stories about the programmable controller’s origins, automation methods used at a brewery, PID learning, artificial intelligence and machine vision, and the emergence of the IIoT. These are based on the top 10 most read articles online in Control Engineering April. Links to each article below.

1. Origins of the programmable controller and its potential future

The programmable logic controller (PLC) went through a lot of trial-and-error in its early inception. It has continued to develop since the 1970’s and the market is now converging toward Ethernet/IP-based control networks.

2. 2017 Engineers’ Choice Awards: Spotlight on innovation

The 30th annual Control Engineering Engineers’ Choice Awards shines a light on 28 categories of control, instrumentation, and automation products, revealing the best of those introduced in 2016 as chosen by you, Control Engineering’s print and digital audience.

3. Automation helps turn home brewer into brew house

Automation methods used in a distillery are adapted for use in the fermentation process at a brew house.

4. Sensors 101: Control system inputs

Thinking of sensors as a physical input to a control system can help an engineer realize there are a lot more possibilities than they realize in a field that is narrowly focused in its thinking.

5. The PID learning process

While there are many excellent loop tuning methods available, many practitioners prefer tweaking proportional-integral-derivative (PID) tuning constants or using rules-of-thumb rather than doing the required step test and data analysis. 

Several companies are working on artificial intelligence (AI) solutions for the machine vision industry that will allow AI to think more like humans by employing deep learning techniques and other functions that humans use to develop their brains. Courtes6. Artificial intelligence and its impact on machine vision

Several companies are working on artificial intelligence (AI) solutions for the machine vision industry that will allow AI to think more like humans by employing deep learning techniques and other functions that humans use to develop their brains.

7. System integration of mobile controls and monitoring: Questions and answers

Cover Story: Reliable wireless capabilities are facilitating mobile monitoring and control. Experts explain why and how mobility helps automation and control applications. 

8. IIoT’s emergence just a matter of when

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) will continue to grow as more investments are made and technology and skills continue to develop.

9. Ethernet cuts automation hardware, labor costs, errors

Think Again about digital networks: A redesigned automated industrial process with the goal of improving safety and efficiency saved $106,654 in hardware, design, and installation costs by using an industrial Ethernet protocol instead of hard wiring, not counting a two-thirds reduction in potential errors or other project benefits.

10. Matrix drives reduce energy consumption for transporter system 

Inside Machines: Industrial matrix drives were used for a transporter system retrofit to reduce energy consumption and costs by creating a more maintenance-free mechanically integral distribution system. New system regeneration capabilities for two motors saves an estimated $1,500 per year.

The list was developed using CFE Media’s web analytics for stories viewed on controleng.com, Apr. 1-30, for articles published within the last two months.

On Mondays, see the top 5 articles of the prior week. In January, see the hot topics for the year.

Chris Vavra, production editor, CFE Media, cvavra@cfemedia.com.